Make sure you are taught how to inject properly, preferably by a medical professional. Contact your local friendly GP or book an appointment with an alcohol and drug service and they will be able to help you.
If you are injecting it’s important to use clean injecting equipment and to avoid sharing needles or any other equipment you might be using to inject. Blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV can be transmitted through the sharing of rigs.
With that being said it’s important to also be aware of where blood can end up. Blood can remain on or in syringes but also on other equipment or surfaces such as your skin, on the hands or the tops of tables. You can’t always see blood so don’t assume that just because you can’t see it that it isn’t there.
Make sure you wash your hands and clean the area where you are preparing to inject. Injecting drug use and the sharing of equipment with others puts you at increased risk of:
- Vein damage and permanent scarring
- Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Tetanus and HIV transmission
- Deep vein thrombosis and clots – this may result in the loss of limbs, damage to organs, stroke and possibly even death
A Guide To Safer Injecting
There is a lot of stigma for people who choose to inject and stigma only causes barriers to people being able to share experiences and knowledge.
Check out more information on Safer Injecting at Harm Reduction Victoria.
The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) developed a great resource on safer injecting. Download it below.
Needle & Syringe Programs
It's now more than a new fit for every hit. Get a whole new kit.
A Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) is somewhere you can get new fits and equipment. You can also safely dispose of your used equipment at these locations.
Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) NSP Directory, has links to Google Maps and provides an Australia wide listing of NSPs and other related services that provide injecting equipment.
Reusing a Rig
With hepatitis C, safer drug use extends to not sharing any of the equipment involved in injecting, i.e. needles/syringes, spoons, swabs, filters, mixing and rinsing water, ties or tourniquets. ”
Harm Reduction Victoria
If possible, we recommend not reusing a rig. Try to stock up on a bunch of new equipment and access a NSP as much as possible so that you have ample amounts of gear. However, sometimes there isn't the choice to use new equipment, so in the event that you have to reuse a rig then:
RINSE IT - under clean, cold tap water straight after use. This will remove most of the blood and helps to reduce the likelihood of HIV and HEP C if someone happens to stick themself. As per the video below, it's best to use bleach as well.
RECAP IT - This keeps the tip sharp, which you’ll need to reduce the level of damage that can occur to your veins if reusing equipment and ensures that any accidental sharps injuries are reduced.
MARK IT - Whether it’s on the barrel or the plunger, mark your rig so you know it’s your own.
STORE IT - Store any used fits in a safe place.
It’s not a good choice to reuse any swabs, filters or opened water ampoules as they’re easily contaminated once they’ve been opened.
This short documentary talks to a research team in the UK who conducted the research on the impact of bleach on HIV on syringes, and explains why it is so important that syringe cleaning is taught to injecting drug users. Find out more at Harm Reduction Works, they also have a range of other great video resources and information.
If you want to find out more about looking afer your veins, then check out this 'Hepatitis C and Vein Care' on-line resource which was produced by the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) for people who inject drugs. It contains information on why looking after your veins can be one of the best ways to prevent getting or passing on hepatitis C (hep C) and other blood borne viruses (BBVs) like HIV and hepatitis B (hep B).